HARWICH ─ Members of the Monomoy girls and boys varsity basketball teams got a taste of the coaching life on Monday when they, along with their coaches, hosted a free skills clinic at the high school.
The idea came from first-year boys head coach Keith Arnold, who, after accepting the job this fall, began formulating clinic plans in his mind. Though a hoped-for fall clinic wasn't possible, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day proved the perfect time for the endeavor, with a solid number of girls and boys from the local area taking part.
“After getting named head coach, I put together a plan in my head about involving us with other parts of the program – the middle school, the travels teams,” Arnold said. “We've got the (varsity) kids as demonstrators and role models.”
Beginning with the girls, youth players were divided into groups to work with their varsity counterparts on myriad skills, including fundamentals such as pivoting, dribbling, passing, shooting, and ball handling, with an emphasis on fun.
The experience gave Monomoy senior Geia Alverio the chance to pass along her knowledge and serve as coach for a while, something she enjoyed immensely.
“It felt good. I liked coaching them. It feels good having them watch me, like, 'oh my god it's Geia!'” she said. “I liked watching everyone get to learn things, actually knowing the form and the dribble, staying low, concentrating on shooting. Their crossovers were really good, keeping their heads up when I did the numbers. Also, being all together because Nauset always takes our players.”
Keeping kids at Monomoy was a part of the impetus for the clinic, which Arnold hopes to make a part of the future of MRHS basketball.
“If anything else, this will be the first of many clinics that I hope to do, because it helps with building the interest level and the fundamentals,” he said. “The foundation of teaching fundamentals goes from the little kids on up, so when they get to the JV and varsity level they've already been through learning how to dribble, learning how to pivot, and it fuels interest here at Monomoy.”
The clinics, Arnold said, serve multiple purposes, involving everything from giving the Monomoy players the opportunity to call upon their own knowledge of basketball skills to passing those skills along to upcoming players and even basking in the glow of a little hero worship.
“It's allowing them as high school kids to take what they're learning in practice and is giving them a look at what it's like to be a coach, and it's also creating relationships with the younger kids,” Arnold said. “They're going to be puffing their chests out for the next hour because they've got all these little kids looking up to them.”
“I like getting to meet the younger kids, getting to show them some skills,” said Eli Nickerson. “They get to meet the varsity team, who some of them might look up to. It's fun. I love it. It makes you feel special, good about yourself.”
Prior to each small-group practice, basic skills were demonstrated by members of the respective varsity squads, first in the girls clinic and then in the boys. High school players initially showed how to perform a specific action before instructing the students on how to do it themselves.
For Arnold, it was a chance to see his players realize their own skill sets and sharpen those skills by correcting the mistakes of the younger generation, leading to greater awareness of the lessons their head coach continues teaching.
“That's what we're trying to do, and create a basketball mindset at Monomoy High School,” said Arnold.
It seemed to pay off. Kids were reluctant to leave at the end of the clinic, talking excitedly about all they'd learned. Bryson Garcia especially enjoyed learning how to do layups better, as did several of his fellow clinic-mates.
Working with the high school players was definitely a highlight.
“I liked that we got to see what the high schoolers did in case we decide to play in high school,” said Carly Dimock.
“I liked working with all the older girls and learning how to do different stuff,” added Melissa Vasquez.
“I liked how all the girls were nice to us, helped us, and taught us a lot of skills,” said Lucy Mawn.
Monomoy girls head coach Pete Richer appreciated the enthusiasm of the attendees and the number of kids who showed up.
“It was great to see a bunch of kids out here, and they're all enthusiastic,” he said. “They all said they learned something, and that's the bottom line: learn something and grow every time you get on the court.”